FESTIFOOLS

To be part of a counterculture, a microcosm of political discourse, a comment on social structure, a disparity from the acceptable norm, is a new and…. interesting experience.  The parade of fools left me asking myself, “Was I just part of a spectacle? Or was there a reason to the chaos?”  After contemplating these questions I realized that I was more than just a performer in a circus of clowns, I was part of an expression of self and ideology that is not normally seen in our modern world.  In our fast pace society, people don’t have the time for personal expression.  Months of paper macheing is a luxury that no one short of a parade enthusiast can afford.  But if you stop for even a day or two and take the time to just make a simple mask you will find the experience freeing, enlightening and fun.

I could not help noticing the irony behind it all.  The process of making the mask was so structured (guidelines for the nose, head, eyes, texture, shape etc. were all given to us) while the underling essence of festifools is abandoning conventional constraints.  We even were assigned the topic for our masks, albeit through a surliest game, but it was mostly out of our control.  In my opinion, the individuality of festifools was lost when we had to make groups of four identical masks.  With all of these contradictions aside, I still really enjoyed making the masks.

We modeled our masks after the theme “ignorant cats.”  For our texture, Margot, Rebecca, Rachel and I choose yarn and atop the yarn we pasted mice.  Together, the yarn and the mice stood for the trivial things in life  that we get preoccupied with.  For our “totem” we choose burning earths to signify global warming and other causes that people are ignorant about.  We hoped to show people what is really important.

For me, paper macheing was the best part of the process.  Pasting paper, piece by piece on my mask and seeing it all come together was a fulfilling experience.  Rebecca and I ended up paper mecheing our masks on the Friday before the parade.    After recollecting our materials, we realized that we needed to print out more yarn and earths for our masks.  Once everything was printed, we were dipping strips of paper in the glue and spreading them onto our masks.  The whole process took about an hour and a half.  Once the glue was dry we glued on the head strap and were ready to become ignorant cats.

On the day of the parade I set out from Couzens Hall not knowing what to expect.  After getting a bit lost, we finally saw a big crowd at the corner Main and Washington.  There were giant puppets, little kids in costumes, and of course Sophia and Alex from Superior Concept Monsters.  Sophia was dressed as a swan while Alex was dressed as a pig with a cigar in his mouth.    We were not really sure when to join the parade.  It was a bit awkward just walking in because the period where everyone joined at once, that Alex promised, never happened.  But soon we found ourselves in the middle of the commotion.  Giant peacocks, gorillas, foxes, butterflies and dragons surrounded us.  A sleazy looking sorority girl puppet sauntered up to us and then turned its head and puked confetti on the crowd.  It was like a different world; something I have never experienced.

The parade moved along to the tribal beat of the drums.  We walked against the current, making our way to its origin.  We passed women with painted faces, a man dressed in homemade clothes that he had nit himself, and a Mardi Gras themed siren that floated high above its 5 or 6 handlers.  Little robots ran in every direction while dragons weaved their way in and out of the crowd.  When we finally reached the front of the parade, we saw a girl dressed as a flower getting ready to join in on the festivities.  She had a bumblebee that floated above her and managed to look both extremely excited and contempt at the same time.

Despite all of the restrictions I experienced while making the masks, during the parade I had complete freedom.  Sophia and Alex were right; wearing a mask releases all of your inhibitions.  I did not have to worry about what people thought about any of my actions because not only could no one tell who I was, but everyone was acting like fools with me.   The fingers were especially amusing.  Despite the difficulties that I experienced while taking pictures with them on, they made me much more animated.  Rebecca and I chose smoke for the pattern of the finger extensions to coincide with the theme of global warming and destruction.  Some of the kids watching the parade found them cool while others, regrettably, were terrified.  However due to the sensation of disembodiment that I felt during the parade, I did not feel bad for frightening the children.

After the parade, I concluded that my original sense of restraint was due to the time limitations.  If we had the time to create giant puppets I could have been more creative.  However, just making up my own theme for the masks would have taken at least one class period in itself.  The freedom of expression that I felt during the parade more than made up for the time constraints.  I am so glad that I took part in the parade of fools.  It is an experience that I wish everyone will have and am sad that more of our blurred vision surrealist could not have.  It is something I will never forget.

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